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Extended UI Benefits

For How Long May Unemployed Workers Draw Unemployment Insurance?

The quick answer to the question posed above is…up to 99 weeks. But there are so many unaddressed details lurking in this apparently simple answer.

The current recession officially began in December 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private group of leading economists charged with dating the start and end of economic downturns. It is generally accepted that the current recession is the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

A great many workers have lost their jobs in this recession. They filed for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, which in all states are available for a maximum of 26 weeks in a 52-week period. Because so many workers remained unemployed following the exhaustion of their UI benefits, the U.S. Congress passed, and the President signed, the first of an eventual four phases providing extended UI benefits.

Here is how the weeks of regular and extended benefits work out for California workers:

Weeks available

(up to) 26 Regular UI benefits
EUC   Extended unemployment compensation
(up to) 20 Phase 1 extended benefits
(up to) 14 Phase 2 extended benefits
(up to) 13 Phase 3 extended benefits, available in states with established high rates of unemployment
(up to) 6 Phase 4 extended benefits, available in states with rates of unemployment that are higher than in phase 3
(up to) 20 Regular Federal/State Benefits (Fed-Ed) which have certain restrictions attached
  99 99 Weeks of regular and extended benefits possible

Who pays for these weeks of benefits?

The employer pays for the first 26 weeks of regular benefits, which is the usual way that the UI benefits program is financed. However, all subsequent extended benefits are paid by the Federal Government, with one important exception. Government entities, such as district and municipal hospitals, pay 100% of whatever benefits are paid under the Regular Federal/State Benefits (Fed-Ed), as required under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (otherwise known as the stimulus package), which funds are being used for the majority of the extended benefits payments.

California claimants for UI benefits, because of California’s continuing high rates of unemployment, potentially qualify for 99 weeks of regular and extended benefits.

In California individuals must first exhaust state regular UI benefits before filing for extended benefits. Claimants must then exhaust each appropriate phase of extended benefits before benefits can be paid, if appropriate, in the next and succeeding phases of extended benefits. On April 16, 2010, the Congress passed and the President signed a short term unemployment extension. Claimants may now file for extended benefits through June 2, 2010. The period for the benefit payments made to eligible claimants now extends to November 6, 2010. The President has indicated to Congress that he would support a further extension through the end of 2010.

We hope that this paper gives you a better understanding of how the extended unemployment insurance system is currently working. If you should have any questions concerning information presented in this document, please feel free to call CAHHS UI Division, at (818) 407-3926.